Kicked Out Anthology – Stories of Queer Homeless Youth

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Sassafras Lowrey is an internationally award-winning storyteller, author, artist, and educator. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her most recent project, Kicked Out, which is an anthology of homeless and formerly homeless queer youth. This cool, queer, femme comic book artist with a cursive (!) typewriter. On and off, I kept up with Sassafrass Lowry’s various projects through blogs and the zine community, but recently was hugely impressed with the scale and scope of a book she compiled about queer homelessness. I think it’s such an important issue, relevant and often overlooked. Sassafrass was kind enough to answer some of my questions. 

Where did the idea for Kicked Out come from? It’s such an ambitious project, how did it all come together?

The initial idea for ‘Kicked Out’ came when I was seventeen just two days after I was kicked out for the last time. I was a really nerdy teenager and I went to the library looking for answers. I read everything my semi-rural Oregon library had under "homosexuality" and nothing spoke to my experience of a now homeless queer teenager.  Not being able to locate myself in books made me feel even more alone, and isolated.  I made a promise that day to myself that if I survived I would make a book so that no other queer kid would ever feel as alone as I did.  It was a big dream to say the least, and one that took many years for me to be able to be at a point to revisit. 

Can you talk a little about the activism that this stemmed from and how do you feel like this anthology supports sustaining that in the future? 

The main philosophy that inspires my work both with ‘Kicked Out’ and beyond is the idea that everyone has a story to tell and that the telling of our stories as marginalized people is essential in the creation of social change, as well as being personally transformative.  When I first began seriously working on ‘Kicked Out’ very front and center for me was my desire to create a space where people could share their stories (prior to being in the anthology many contributors had never told their story) and to create this collection that would go out into the world and help isolated current and former homeless queer youth to realize that they are not alone, and  inspire others to tell their stories

How has this project touched or affected you personally?

That’s a big question. I mean on a very basic level ‘Kicked Out’ is really a dream come true for me. This was the book that I wish I’d had when I became homeless, and years later to revisit that dream and realize that there still wasn’t a book that filled that void, and then to have the opportunity to make it a reality has been a very personally powerful experience. Beyond that though, and most importantly ‘Kicked Out’ grew into something so much bigger than I could have ever imagined. ‘Kicked Out’ has truly become a source of community mobilization focused not only on education around the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness, but also on creating community amongst current and former homeless queer youth. 

Were you surprised or especially touched by any common themes or experiences that you noticed in putting together this anthology?

I was and continue to be honored by the ways in which each and every contributor to ‘Kicked Out’ opened up about their lives and experiences in a way that is profoundly difficult for most folks to do.  As far as common themes or experiences, one of the most insidious things about this epidemic is it’s size and diversity. Queer youth homelessness occurs in every community across lines of race, class, religion, and geographic region. It also takes a lot of forms – everything from couch surfing, foster care, living on the streets, to forced institutionalization. 

Kicked Out is a book, but there are a couple of other projects related to queer homelessness that you’re involved in, right? What are those?

I maintain an active blog at that includes guest bloggers talking about the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness both from a personal perspective as well as different things that come up in the news.  In the month of October we ran a campaign called ‘Come Out, Kicked Out’ which involved daily blog posts from current and former homeless queer youth sharing their stories, as well as allies talking about how this epidemic is impacting their communities. Beyond the book itself and the blog I tour nationally to colleges, conferences, community groups, and homeless shelters facilitating writing workshops, doing readings, and lecturing on the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness. 

How can other people get involved in supporting homeless queer youth on a practical level? 

One of the first things that anyone can do is to start talking.  People in general including the LGBTQ community is shockingly unaware of anything connected to homeless queer youth. All of us need to begin having conversations in our communities to both raise awareness and break down the very real stigma that is attached to having been kicked out.  Beyond that many cities across the country have fantastic organizations like queer youth centers and programs, as well as LGBTQ youth shelters.  These organizations are always in need of donations of food, clothing, money as well as volunteers. On the Kicked Out website we have a growing list of organizations across the United States as well as several other countries of queer specific youth programs working with homeless youth:

How is your work with the Kicked Out anthology different from previous work with queer zines and comics?

I really got my start with writing in the zine community both while I was homeless and in the years immediately following that.  When I was an active zinester I wrote and self-published dozens of personal zines about different aspects of my life and it was a time that really helped me to develop as a writer. I haven’t been part of zine community in many years  though of course those ethics continue to inform my work to some extent.  For example I was very committed to ensuring previously unpublished voices made up a large part of the contributors. Beyond my own background and ethics about writing and publishing editing Kicked Out and working with a publisher was a completely different process.

Comment a little on the string of highly visible young gay suicides and how that played out in the media. Do you think anything good came out of that? Are there more practical solutions?

I like everyone I know in the community am devastated by young LGBTQ folks committing suicide.  As you reference the suicides of the last few months have been incredibly visible in the media- which is a good thing because quite frankly like queer youth homelessness the rate of suicide amongst some of our youngest community members is an issue that has been ignored for far too long.  I’m not sure what you mean by the practical solutions part of the question – I’m guess you are referencing Dan Savage’s "It Gets Better" campaign – if so I wrote a lengthy response to it here titled ‘I’m not going to tell you it gets better

How can people get a copy of Kicked Out? Or get in touch with you for lectures or workshops? 

Kicked Out is available online at It can also be purchased as an ebook. Many independent bookstores have Kicked Out on the shelves, and if they don’t they (or any corporate bookstore) can order it for you.   The best way to get in touch with me to discuss lectures or workshops is by email at: Folks can also learn more about my workshops and lectures here: 

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